Some New Jersey legislators want to institute an anti-bullying bill of rights to strengthen
a law passed in 2002 they say does not go far enough.
The bipartisan group want a measure requiring school districts to establish bullying-prevention programs and train school employees how to identify and investigate it.
A year in the making, the proposed legislation follows last month’s suicide of 18-year-old Rutgers student Tyler Clementi who took his life after video of him having a romantic encounter with another man was streamed on the Internet.
Testifying Monday was 37-year-old Stella Serpa, who said she still gets emotional when remembering what it was like to be harassed at school for the way she looked.
“It was hard,” she said. “And the only thing that didn’t bring me to the point of contemplating taking my life was because my biological mother told my brother and I we needed to get an education.”
Kim Otto of Haddonfield said her gay teenage son was distraught after being verbally harassed at school.
“Words that really were soul sucking for him. He lost himself,” said Otto. “He became extremely depressed and he contemplated suicide.”
Otto said schools need to teach children how to be accepting and compassionate.